How Dams Fit Into the Electrical Age
As the world moves further away from fossil fuels, internal combustion engines and single use plastic, new technologies are filling the space left behind. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, tidal and hydro are replacing traditional ones like coal, oil and natural gas. This is where dams come into the picture. Dams can be utilised to create hydro-electric power; whilst this method of energy collection isn’t perfect, it doesn’t produce any air pollution and water is a renewable material, unlike all fossil fuels.
Electricity is used for many different reasons these days, from powering our cars, to lighting our homes, to maintaining our online cloud storage. As the world becomes increasingly digitised, we need more electricity to maintain our new lifestyle and that steadily increases worldwide energy consumption.
This is especially obvious in the way that almost everything has moved online. We now have access to virtual assistants in our homes, like Siri, we compete online on Pokercasino; we can work remotely and catch up with friends using video call services, as well as do all our shopping through websites like Revolve and ElectronicExpress. All of this requires a lot more electricity than we were using even 30 years ago.
Although there is no one renewable energy source that will replace all fossil fuels moving forward, hydro-electric power is an impressive option. It can create consistent, reliable energy that is then converted into electricity used to power entire nations.
Advantages to Using Hydro-electric Power
The main advantages are, as mentioned above, its consistency and reliability. However, it should also be noted that no pollution is created when using hydro-electric power; pollution of the earth, air and seas is a concerning by-product of all fossil fuel use that people have been trying to minimise for decades. Even nuclear power, another alternative to be considered, produces toxic and potentially dangerous waste that cannot be safely disposed of. Use of hydro-electric power actively reduces global greenhouse gas emissions on the whole as it leads to a reduced demand for fossil fuels, and it will not leave behind a risky by-product.
Whilst building a HEP dam is expensive at first, its main energy source, water, is completely free. There is no need to continually mine, dig or drill for it, it simply flows. With every rainfall comes a free top up and 70% of the world’s surface is covered in the stuff. It is also a fairly low maintenance method of creating energy, meaning that, overall, HEP energy should be cheaper for the consumer and should also help to lower global energy prices.
Whilst many people may not be aware of it, hydro-electric power generation is a reliable, proven method of energy production. In fact, it already accounts for 17% of total electricity production across the planet. Whilst it cannot be rolled out everywhere, for obvious suitability reasons, it is a big help in keeping the planet running with its increasing need for electricity and, at the same time, for reducing fossil fuel consumption.
Disadvantages to Using Hydro-electric Power
Of course, HEP dams are not a miracle cure-all. They do come with some drawbacks. However, these disadvantages can be managed if they are recognised and addressed from the outset. No energy source is completely risk free, and people need to readdress their individual energy consumption as well before we make any real headway with preserving our natural resources.
As previously referred to, HEP dams are inescapably expensive to build and so there needs to be a solid investment in order to get the project up and running. The environment where they are built also needs to be taken into consideration before any work can begin. The dams do, by their very nature, alter the local habitat and therefore any indigenous wildlife should be factored in at the planning stage. The landscape should also be carefully considered to make sure that enough water will be able to flow in order to make energy production viable. Building a HEP dam sounds easy enough, but there are many factors to consider before going ahead with a build, not least whether there is enough space to erect the dam and attached reservoir needed.
Dams have been used by humankind for literally thousands of years but, as we move further into this new millennium, we may see them utilised for the production of massive amounts of electrical energy rather than just moving water around. We are only about a century in to using HEP dams but, so far, they have proven to be a blessing. As long as we work with local environments rather than against them, we can look forward to benefitting from hydro-electric power for potentially a very long time to come.